Sunday, February 25, 2007

Distinct Approaches -- Scaer and Marquart (6/6)

Continuing with my observations regarding the distinct opinions of two respected churchmen of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod on the subject of the third use of the law (their papers are referenced in a previous post), my sixth and final observation is the weaknesses of each man's presentation.
  • Both Dr. Scaer and Dr. Marquart equate the accusatory function of the law with the second use (p. 5 and p. 3, respectively). As I commented in a previous post, I find this approach to be unclear in its biblical and confessional roots.
  • Dr. Marquart's underlying premise throughout his paper is that the Law can be preached in its third use distinct from the first and second uses. While the Law may be preached by men, it is used by God. It is the height of arrogance that men can dissect the Law in their regular preaching. On any given Sunday, the people gathered in my congregation need all three functions - the hypocrites (and any unbelievers present) need the first; the old Adam in believers needs the second; the new man needs the third. No matter which function each individual requires, the Law always accuses.
  • Dr. Marquart says "Our lives are holy only as they conform to the revealed will of God, in other words, to the third use of the Law" (p. 3). It appears as if he is saying that we are made holy by the law. I was taught that our lives are made holy by the blood of Jesus Christ and His righteousness which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit - "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:11). The confessions also speak of the Holy Spirit effecting holiness through the Gospel. "The Holy Spirit effects our sanctification through the following: the communion of saints or Christian church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. In other words, he first leads us into his holy community, placing us upon the bosom of the church, where he preaches to us and brings us to Christ" (LC II.37).
  • Marquart notes, "Clearly the New Testament exhortations to love and good works require conscious effort, not unthinking, automatic compliance with inner instincts!" However, note what the Formula of Concord contributes, "Fruits of the Spirit, however, are those works which the Spirit of God, who dwells in the believers, works through the regenerated, and which the regenerated perform in so far as they are reborn and do them as spontaneously as if they knew of no command, threat, or reward. In this sense the children of God live in the law and walk according to the law of God. In his epistles St. Paul calls it the law of Christ and the law of the mind. Thus God’s children are “not under the law, but under grace” (FC, Ep. VI.6).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Answering the bullet points, in order:

1. The FC-SD defines the second use by saying that "through it men are brought to a knowledge of their sins." Is that not accusation? Lex semper accusat because it is impossible to hear or proclaim the law without the second use being present and at least implied. For, "If we say we have no sin, etc." The first and third uses or functions are not properly accusatory. Marquart and Scaer are consistent with the Confessional understanding of the term ("second use"). A preacher may emphasize the third use, but the Christian man will also hear the second use, since the old man is ever present.

2. a. Are you accusing Dr. Marquart of reaching for the "height of arrogance"?

2. b. Above all, it is the second use that "unbelievers present" need. They must acquire a "knowledge of their sins" if they are to repent and believe the Gospel. It matters little, in the end, if they had "external discipline and decency" (the first use), if they had no repentence and perished in their sins.

2. c. Contrary to what you write, the new man does not need the third use: He doesn't need any use because he doesn't need any law. The Christian man (a composite of old and new) needs the third use in order that he might "learn the new obedience."

3. How can Dr. Marquart mean what he "appears to be saying," when he also says, on the same page, "The Law is the standard and measure of good works, but it lacks the power to produce or motivate them"? It appears that you are not really interacting with Marquart's paper, because he plainly answers this objection in complete harmony with each of your citations (in the third bullet point) of Scripture and the Confessions.

4. "Spontaneously" does not mean "automatically" or "the work of automata." As Dr. Marquart writes, "We have a renewed will, which 'is not idle in the daily practice of repentance but cooperates in all the works of the Holy Spirit that He accomplishes through us' (Formula of Concord, SD, II,88, p. 561)."

Finally, what do you make of the negative thesis in the same section that you cite? "Accordingly, we reject as a dogma and error injurious to, and conflicting with, Christian discipline and true godliness the teaching that the Law in the above-mentioned way and degree is not to be urged upon Christians and true believers, but only upon unbelievers, non-Christians, and the impenitent."

Isn't the FC clearly saying that it is an "injurious error" to refuse to "urge" the third use ("the above-mentioned way and degree") "upon Christians and true believers"?